A Sheffield MP and a South Yorkshire sporting champion have teamed up to urge the Government to improve physical education in schools.
Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith and Darren Padgett, director of social enterprise Team Activ, say PE lessons and school sport are being sidelined because of pressures on academic subjects despite the UK’s obesity timebomb.
They are backing a manifesto by the Youth Sport Trust which calls for more time for higher quality PE, physical activities to be a part of every school day and the return of competitive sport in schools.
Darren, founder of Team Activ which delivers extra-curricular sporting activities in schools, said: “Everyone acknowledges that maths and literacy are extremely important but PE and sport is often viewed as something which can be sidelined.
“We believe passionately in the power of sport to improve academic and behavioural standards but the last few years have been particularly difficult for those responsible for delivering physical education in schools.”
Ms Smith said the obesity problem is putting a huge strain on the NHS, health and social care services and leaving millions of people with a poor quality of life.
She said: “As the manifesto reports, if just 10 per cent more children and young people met physical activity recommendations, this could save the taxpayer £7.8 billion over the lifetime of today’s 11 to 25-year-olds.
“But it’s more than just saving money though as being active impacts on all aspects of our lives.”
A Department for Education spokesman said: “As part of our plan for education, we want children to get into the habit of playing and enjoying sport – both in lessons and after school. That’s why we have given primary school headteachers more than £450million of funding to spend on improving PE – and our own research shows they are using it to deliver more and better sport.
“Research shows that primary schools are delivering more than two hours of PE each week – which is an average increase of 13 minutes in the last year. Eighty three per cent of schools also reported an increase in participation in after-hours sports since the introduction of the funding.”